The New Year brings with it shifts in consumer behavior and savvy marketers will tailor their programs accordingly. We’ve reviewed the latest observations from our research partners Iconoculture and eMarketer and summarized the top trends that will impact both marketers and consumers in 2014.
Make sure to watch for these 5 trends this year:
#1: Balancing Social Media Consumers are seeking a realistic balance between social media channels and real life experiences. Consumers are entering a new relationship phase with social media called “assessment.” This emerging phase is the result of social media fatigue. People are signing off from social channels and questioning the value that these virtual connections provide to them. Instead of seeking attention, consumers are showing they instead care more about establishing genuine emotional connections with friends, family, colleagues and even brands. Real life interactions still matter and marketers who succeed in facilitating them will be rewarded for their efforts.
#2: Getting Back to Basics Demand is increasing for local, artisan products. Transparency of the Internet has brought more scrutiny to large corporations and the ethics of business. As a result, consumers have grown weary of issues ranging from environmental concerns to safe labor practices. Shoppers are dealing with this uncertainty by pulling back and choosing locally produced goods and services. Brands should find ways to show their support of localized audiences and forge partnerships with specialty craftsmen and suppliers.
#3: Emotionally Driven Retail Retailers leverage digital connections to engage shoppers’ emotions. Retailers striving to succeed in today’s on-demand marketplace are moving beyond commodity commerce and creating experiences that appeal to both our senses and our emotions. Digital shopping tools are evolving from formulaic design into something memorable and even desired. Emerging online shopping experiences are infused with emotional connections brought to us through a mash-up of peer-to-peer commerce (Etsy), sharing economy (Rent the Runway), social content curation (Pinterest), crowdsourced business recommendations (Yelp), and content aggregation (Lyst).
#4: Prox Luxe The sluggish economic rebound is changing what consumers define as luxurious. As the economy continues to make a slow recovery, consumers have decided to deal with uncertainty and hardships through a new definition of what is considered luxurious. In essence, consumers are asking, “How do I maintain this lifestyle or meet my needs for luxury in an economically difficult time?” Luxury is becoming less about affluence and more about practicality, stability, and sturdiness. Instead of searching for the perfect luxury, consumers are looking for products that are “good enough”. This “good enough” mindset may mean less expensive alternatives for the same product. Marketers across many categories should emphasize the practical everyday value of their brands and how they enable better experiences, as well as more control and convenience for their owners.
#5: Always-On Commerce Shopping that never stops. 2013 has seen an evolution from “everyday commerce” to “always-on commerce”. Always-on commerce refers to the idea that because of the widespread adoption of mobile and tablet usage, consumers are always within range of a digital shopping experience. They can easily jump from physical store to virtual store, or online showroom. This shift is only just now being seen in ad spending breakdowns and sales forecasts for 2013. Nick Hodson, a partner at Booz & Co. says, “Smartphone use is more or less continuous. [It] doesn’t say anything about whether the use has anything to do with shopping, but it does mean that [it has] a large part of the consumer’s mindshare during that shopping mission. The shopping trip starts earlier and ends later than it used to.” This means that as consumption shifts to be more mobile based, consumers are always in the mindset to shop. Brands must ensure a consistent shopping experience across channels and understand the nuance of designing for different devices such as smartphones, tablets, desktop PCs, large format interactive signage and more.